It has been many years now since I last saw the horse but I still look for it everywhere I go and many nights I dream of the horse and the music which came from it.
It was 1992 when saw the horse for the first and last time in a small antique shop near the center of Cairo and if I had only known then that I would only get one chance, just moments, to own it, well, perhaps, I would be writing a different story.
We were in Cairo as tourists in 1992 seeing all the ancient sites and suffering through the summer heat when we had a day off from our travels to simply shop the streets of Cairo and off one thoroughfare there was an small alley housing many small one man merchant shops. As I walked along the alley, the window of one shop made me stop and enter, as it seemed to have very high quality reproductions of Egyptian artifacts.
Moving slowly about the shop, I came to a shelf holding many small figurines and there among the usual figures of Egyptian gods was a small brownish clay horse statute with very fine Egyptian hieroglyphics curved into it and perfectly round holes all over it. Picking up the horse, it felt warm to the touch in my hands and then it began to emit sounds and quickly I could see the sounds were in concert with how I held the horse in my hands, squeezing harder or softer or moving my hands this way or that. And then, the sounds coming from the horse became the most beautiful, haunting, ancient music and it was only after the shopkeeper came and took the horse from my hands that I remembered where I was. "Did you hear that?", I asked the shopkeeper. "Hear what sir?", I heard nothing. Do you wish to buy the horse sir?" And then for some strange reason I have tried to understand many, many, times since that day, I simply turned, walked out of the shop and back onto the street.
It was only after I had walked a shop or two further up the alley, that I realized that I had to see and hear the horse again and making my way back to the shop, which had the horse, I entered and again found the shelf of figurines but the horse was not there. "Sir," I asked of the shopkeeper, "The horse, I would like to buy it." "But Sir, I just sold it," he responded. "When? How? To whom?", I pleaded. "Sir, a man bought it just after you left the store." he said. "What man, did you know him? Was he a tourist? An American?", I asked looking about for perhaps another horse on the shelves somewhere. "Sir, I do not know. A man. He might have been American but as he did not speak, I cannot say." I could not believe it and moved quickly to the street to look for anyone carrying the horse or what might be a bag with the horse in it but the street was crowded with people and there was just no chance of locating the horse there.
The shopkeeper must have another one I thought but when asked he claimed that it was a one of a kind and from ancient Egypt, something, which all shop keepers in Cairo claimed of their wares and so began a search of all of Cairo for a horse like I had held in my hands and, which had made such beautiful, haunting, music. But day after day went by and no matter, which alley way I searched or who I asked, the horse was not to be found.
Gone! Gone forever to me!
I can see the horse in my hands of my mind and hear its beautiful music and with closed eyes I feel the tug of time and quiet desert nights alone. Why oh why did I ever release it from my hands and walk away? Could it be that the horse just was not for me?
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